Bob Thorneycroft is a mime, dancer, circus performer, actor (Photo from 1975 Pram Factory), musician, and writer. He has been a creative engine in the Mallacoota creative community for alot more decades than he can comfortably acknowledge.
He taught mathematics at Melbourne University and was a boxer in a previous life.
He barracks for Collingwood and surf
OLDIES CAN BE BOLDIES
OLDIES CAN BE BOLDIES
Woody came running up to me, puffing.
“Bloody hell! The Classical Trio can’t make ‘The Oldies’ gig at Miva-Miva. You’ll have to knock something up. It’s at five o’clock. We can’t cancel, we’re bussing some of ‘em in.”
John Wood-Ingram, my best mate, was directing another Mallacoota Easter Festival. At this one I was his off-sider, having had enough of sharing the main job with him. It has to be said that Woody was doing outstanding administrative work at this stage of the Festival’s history; I may have even been a hindrance to the engine room.
“Geez Woody, that’s a tough one. What do I know about old farts?”
“You’ve got plenty of stuff. You’ve got all day to work something out. (It was just before lunch.) I can give you Grunden, and Mel and Linda reckon they’ve got three suitable songs and said they can do it.” John Grunden was/is an amazing, humble bass player. He can follow/play along with anything musical. He’s been in thousands of bands. Mel and Linda were a keyboards, guitar and vocals duo, very competent.
“Mmm, ‘spose I could get something together”, I mumbled, already mentally leafing through my ‘repertoire’, imagining alterations and adaptations, new stuff, and a running order.
From quarter to five I welcomed everybody and tried to crack jokes to put people at ease, especially those who hadn’t heard the Classicists weren’t coming. It did seem the audience would be happy with their ‘Special, Oldies Show’ in the Festival.
I M-C’d in a wacky costume, did a gumboot dance and a tap dance to Grunden’s bass. Mel and Linda led a couple of sing-a-longs and played a lovely duet. I played some accordion, recited a poem, did a modern dance to a tape, some juggling with words that told a story, some ‘routines’ that involved the audience, including my ‘invisible ball – bum wiggling’ skit and then, feeling confident the show had been well received and realizing there were just a few minutes to go, I decided to improvise something that just popped into my head. Little did I know I would hit ‘The Mother Vein’.
‘Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, some news that has saddened me, and the cooks who have prepared a large chocolate cake for after our show. An incident has occurred and this I feel, must be addressed. Unfortunately, some RUDE PERSON has gauged a finger into the very thick, scrumptious, gorgeous chocolate icing on OUR CAKE! I think the rest of us would like to know who this AWFUL PERSON is. Can I ask you to raise your middle finger of your right hand please? Everyone. Come on now. (How serious I was…) Hmm, nothing showing there, so now turn the fingernail side to me, please.” At this point, if not before, the audience realized they were being given license to give someone (me?) ‘The Finger’. THEY WENT OFF!!! The demure, the conservative, the ‘Nice’, they rioted. They gave the ‘up you’ to each other, to themselves. Several of the more agile jumped onto tables and rammed their middle finger upwards – with some force – to all points of the compass, and even to the heavens. They shouted. They yelled. Then they laughed, at themselves, to each other. The Miva-Miva staff and Grunden, who knew these people well, had never seen anything like this behavior from this group of people.
It was a very upbeat cup of tea after the show – congrats, backslapping, handshaking and giggling. “Hey! No bloody chocolate cake”, yelled a few. Woody couldn’t believe the reports. “Best show ever. Can we book Uncle Bob for next year?”